Generic Name: Ethambutol Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.


What is ethambutol used for?

Ethambutol is commonly used for treating tuberculosis infections of the lung (diagnostic categories I and III).

It must be used as the sole anti-tuberculosis medication and only for the continuation phase of therapy.

How should I take ethambutol?

Tablets should be taken on an empty stomach (at least one hour prior to or two hours after a meal). Swallow it with water or another drink.

Always take tablets exactly as your doctor or health care provider told you. You should check with your doctor, health care provider or pharmacist if you are not sure.

How do I store ethambutol?

Ethambutol is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store ethambutol in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of ethambutol that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush ethambutol down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using ethambutol?

Ethambutol must not be combined with any other anti-tuberculosis medicine, since this may increase the risk of liver injury.

If the tuberculosis treatment regimen includes additional anti-tuberculosis medicines, other formulations with different doses of ethambutol than those contained in tablets should be used.

You should promptly report signs or symptoms consistent with liver damage. They may include unexplained lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, yellowing of the skin and the eye white (jaundice), rash, tingling in the hands and feet, persistent tiredness, weakness lasting longer than 3 days and/or abdominal tenderness, especially in the right upper region of your belly. Your doctor or health care provider will control your liver function regularly.

You should promptly report any visual impairment, since one of the active agents in ethambutol may damage your eyes. Your doctor or health care provider will control your visual acuity prior to therapy and at regular intervals during treatment.

Patients who are not able to report visual changes (such as young children) and patients with visual changes prior to start of therapy with ethambutol, will be monitored more closely.

If you have abnormally high levels of uric acid in the blood or symptoms of gout, your doctor will monitor you for signs of deterioration when treated with ethambutol.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category C, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk
  • B=No risk in some studies
  • C=There may be some risk
  • D=Positive evidence of risk
  • X=Contraindicated
  • N=Unknown

Side effects

What side effects can occur from ethambutol?

The most important adverse effects of ethambutol are:

  • Visual disturbances caused by inflammation of the optic nerve
  • Other nerve injuries
  • Fatal inflammation of the liver (sometimes)

The most commonly reported side effects include:

  • Sensations of tingling, pricking, or numbness of the skin, especially in the feet and hands (peripheral neuropathy)
  • Increasing of uric acid levels and liver enzymes as measured in blood samples
  • Visual changes due to inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis)

These changes are often reversible after discontinuation of treatment with ethambutol. If you notice any visual disturbance, please inform your doctor or health care provider immediately.

Uncommon side effects are inflammation of the liver (hepatitis), seizures, inflammation of the brain, personality changes and memory impairment. If you notice sign and symptoms suggestive for liver damage, inform your doctor or health care provider immediately.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.


What drugs may interact with ethambutol?

Ethambutol may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Products may interact with ethambutol, such as:

  • Aluminium hydroxide (medicine used to treat diseases related to the gastric acid)
  • Disulfiram (medicine used for the treatment of chronic alcoholism)
  • Certain medicines to treat gout (e.g. probenecid)
  • Medicines to treat epileptic seizures (e.g. phenytoin, carbamazepine, valproic acid)
  • Medicines used to help you sleep (benzodiazepines, e.g. diazepam, flurazepam, triazolam, midazolam)
  • Medicines for the treatment of certain psychiatric conditions (neuroleptics, e.g. chlorpromazine, haloperidol)
  • Medicines for prevention of blood clots (coumarin- or indandione-derivates, e.g. warfarin)
  • Medicines used prior to surgery (narcotics, e.g. alfentanil, enflurane)
  • Theophylline (medicine for the treatment of asthma)
  • Corticosteroids (e.g. prednisolone, medicines for the treatment of inflammations and other diseases, such as asthma or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Acetaminophen or paracetamol (pain killers)

Does food or alcohol interact with ethambutol?

Ethambutol may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with ethambutol?

Ethambutol may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.


The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using ethambutol.

What is the dose of ethambutol for an adult?

The dose was decided by your doctor based on your body weight.

In patients weighing 40 to <55 kg, the dose is 2 tablets administered once daily.

In patients weighing 55 kg or more, the dose is 3 tablets administered once daily.

Ethambutol tablets is not indicated for patients weighing < 40 kg as the appropriate dose reduction for the weight of the patient cannot be made.

What is the dose of ethambutol for a child?

The dosage has not been established in pediatric patients. It may be unsafe for your child. It is always important to fully understand the safety of the drug before using. Please consult with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

How is ethambutol available?

Ethambutol INH is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Ethambutol 400 mg and isoniazid 150 mg

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss or forget to take a dose, take the missed dose as soon as possible, unless the next regular dose is scheduled within 6 hours. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next regular dose. Do not take a double dose to make up for forgotten individual doses.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

msBahasa Malaysia

Review Date: April 1, 2017 | Last Modified: April 1, 2017

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